I have always had a rocky relationship with yeast. Like, you know when you see a couple making fun of each other in public in a way that’s not cute teasing but legitimately uncomfortable and you just kind of stand there and think, “man, am I uncomfortable!”? That’s my relationship with yeast in a nutshell. The few times I’ve tried to make something with yeast, it’s made me feel like a failure in public, and made me skittish about going out with it again.
But fear no more!
When I saw some recipes for five-minute a day artisan bread, easy homemade french bread, etc., I was really skeptical. Bread, in my experience, is anything but easy and fast. But this stuff is the real deal, and I can see myself making it over and over. Full disclosure—five minutes refers to the actual hands-on time per day, but it’s still really easy overall.
And it was delicious with nothing on it, with butter, and with my homemade strawberry no-pectin jam.
First you’re going to need a really big bowl. The dough will expand quite a bit as it rises.
The beauty of this recipe (besides how easy it is), is that it only takes four ingredients, all of which you probably have on-hand.
First, add the water to the bowl, make sure it’s lukewarm—not too hot or it’ll kill the yeast, but cold won’t work.
Add the flour to the water.
Throw the salt and yeast in, then start to combine everything.
Stir everything up until it resembles dough, though it will seem like it’s way too little dough to make three loaves. I used a wooden spoon, for some reason I feel like that makes it more legit.
Don’t over-stir, just enough to get the ingredients combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise. I ran my microwave for about two minutes to warm it up, then put the bowl of dough in there to help it rise. You can let it rise for 2-5 hours, but I went with somewhere between 4-5 to get the best amount of fluffiness.
This is what it looked like after two hours of rising.
Here’s what it was like after four hours.
It was very wet, much more so than I expected for bread dough, and it made it a little hard to work with initially. I needed a lot of flour to keep it from sticking all over my hands.
Worked with the dough a little, not major kneading or anything, mostly getting some flour worked into the dough so it wasn’t sticking, and stretching it around a little. Cut or tear the dough into three equal sections.
Look at those nice little mounds of pre-bread.
For the one you’re going to bake right away (or if you’ve pulled some dough out of the fridge), preheat the oven to 450 and place the floured dough on a cast-iron griddle, or some other hard surface. The griddle is great because it helps provide a good hard crust on the bottom of the loaf when it bakes. Let the dough sit here for about 40 minutes. It will develop a tiny little toughness to the outside of the dough, which is good.
If you’re not using some of the dough right away, you can put it in a container or big plastic sack, and put it in the fridge. What’s important is that the container or sack has a way for the gas to escape as the yeast continues to react. I just left an inch or so of the sack unlocked to let the air out. It’ll keep in the fridge for about a week.
When it’s been 30-40 minutes, put a few slashes in the top of the bread. They can be parallel or criss-cross, but these not only look pretty but also let some of the steam escape the bread. If you don’t put the slashes in, the bread will still bust open somewhere.
Place a bake-safe metal pan with about an inch of water in it on the rack below where you’ll bake the bread, should be at least four inches below. This will create some steam, which helps the outer shell of the bread develop while the inside stays soft. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the outer crust is good and hard. If you like it darker, you can set the oven on broil for a minute or two.
And that’s all there is to it!
It’s awesome fresh and hot with butter and jam. Was soft and chewy on the inside, with a nice crust on the outside.
I made the other two loaves the following two nights. When you pull it out of the fridge, still let it sit for about 40 minutes to come to room temperature and get the little skin on it again. Then bake as normal. It was great!
5-Minute Artisan French Bread
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon granulated yeast (or two packets, which is about the same)
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (adjust to suit your taste or eliminate, though I don’t think it would taste great with NO salt)
- 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I haven’t tested yet with whole wheat, but I will be trying it)
Combine all ingredients in a big bowl. Let rise for 2-5 hours. Cut or tear into three loaves. Set the loaf you’re baking on the griddle or baking stone, let sit for 30-40 minutes, then cut some slashes into the loaf before baking. Bake at 450 for 20-30 minutes.
The leftover dough can be put in the fridge for up to a week in a big ziploc bag. When removed from fridge, let sit at room temperature for 40 minutes before cutting slashes in it & baking.
Original recipes here: